Almost Twenty Questions

The last 2 months have been such a hodge-podge of events that a running theme has been impossible to nail down. What better way to pique your curiosity and get all the news out than with a little quiz? Questions are roughly in chronological order. Good luck.

1. What did Olivia’s French science teacher do with the rabbit after dissecting it with her class?
Take it home and eat it, of course!
2. What has Angela been doing every Tues. afternoon since the last newsletter?
Continuing to talk and pray with her neighborhood friend, who has also joined her fitness class! The best part is that since she is Libyan/British, she and her family can also borrow and benefit from our English Christian books and films.
3. The Leighs hosted several people in the last 2 months, ranging from one meal to a 2 week’s stay. Who was NOT included in this list?
  • our pastor and his son
  • Noah (on his spring break)
  • a French class from Peoria
  • 2 Amish brothers from Lancaster
  • our favorite babysitter from Denver
  • the church couple on our worship team
  • an American senior student teaching at an international school in Germany
    Our favorite babysitter from Denver. She actually is hoping to come in late June.
4. What has proven to be the greatest threat to lice survival on Olivia’s head?
Mayonnaise. Thank you, Mary, for helping us see the light at the end of the hair shaft!
5. What award-winning film did Angela and David see with free passes to celebrate her 47th birthday?
Slumdog Millionaire – we really appreciated seeing spiritual truth presented in a creative way: that God uses all that life throws at us for our good.
6. Why is it impossible to celebrate a birthday properly on a Sunday?
Because while this is a popular day for a family movie outing in France, everything else, including nice restaurants, are closed for the sabbath, even in a big city!
7. How far did the Leighs have to drive to renew their passports?
We drove 2 hours to Bern, the Swiss capital.
8. Why were they so rudely refused at the embassy and how did they salvage the day?
We were told that they only process Swiss residents and to go to Geneva. (It looks like we might not have to go any further than Strasbourg in the end.) We recovered while enjoying my belated birthday meal, witnessing a doctor’s strike/protest(!), savoring a Starbucks, visiting Einstein’s apt., where he developed his theory of relativity while working at the local patent office, and buying hot dogs and Daims at IKEA for dinner on the way home.
9. How did the Leighs make the Holy week holier this year?
We learned how to make palm crosses on Palm Sunday, and Angela created a journal for the week for everyone with a passage of scripture to meditate on and pray over each day. The night before Easter we had 2 free tickets to attend Bach’s Saint John’s Passion at Olivia’s music school (in the setting of their ancient abbey sanctuary with perfect acoustics.) It is sung in German, but Olivia’s 3 years of German meant that she could translate at least 1/2 of it!
10. What Easter main dish did Angela cook for the first time this year?
A leg of lamb – it turned out great, served 5 people, and there were still leftovers!
11. Who were the last-minute honored guests (see question #3 for choices!)
The pastor and his youngest son, who were ALONE and had NO invitation for Easter dinner!!
12. What is now in Angela’s mouth that cost as much as a plane ticket back to the States?
They aren’t any cheaper here – a porcelain crown.
13. What certificate is Angela currently working towards on-line?
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and getting good grades too. Should be done in a couple of weeks.
14. How did David get more mileage out of Olivia’s blessing ceremony last weekend?
He gave a sermon for our Sat. night service on the topic of blessing and lots of people came forward for prayer afterwards. Here’s proof that he can speak French…
15. Who is David working with under his new right-to-work status ?
A South African family with whom we became friends 7 years ago in language school is living and working a few hours away. Pierre is trying to make a living with web commerce and recently lost his IT help. David has agreed maintain his web sites, dedicated web server and the business functions that run on it on a part-time basis while continuing the “worship and technology” ministry at school and church.
16. What famous person opened a restaurant in our village recently?
The former personal chef for Jacques Chirac – now Soultz is really worth a visit!
18. And the final French culture question for an extra bonus point:
What do French McDonald’s employees say when they have to bring your sandwich to your table?
“Bon appétit!” (and never, “Sorry for the wait!”)

Thanks for playing!
Love, Angela

Bern surrounded by the Aare River

Easter Weekend


The cats are an important part of the family that don’t get much press, so we’re making it up to them by letting Gumdrop write this month’s news.

Well, the house has been a little noisier this month. The big guy in particular seems to be addressing our Creator in a no nonsense way. Last week he even drove 2 hours to a bridge and stood in the driving rain to declare that “a real YWAM Alsace would take root and as an adopted son of Alsace he would walk as an adopted son of the King and no longer as a slave.”Two days later when the phone rang, he got really loud, running towards the missus, narrowly missing my tail, yelling, “TEN YEARS!” whatever that means. They walked over to the mayor’s office and when they came back the big guy looked a foot taller and the missus had wet cheeks. I think this is the latest ceiling tile that the missus was waiting to drop. The big guy is already getting paid for giving guitar lessons to a girl in the village who wants to join her worship team. He also wants to start a part-time computer repair business. The missus is suddenly very motivated about getting certified to teach English as a Second Language. Apparently, renovating our habitat no longer sounds like an impossible dream…

It’s been a good month in general. One day, I was moved to jump into the lap of the missus and give her some lovin’. Her cheeks got wet again, and I think it’s because I made her wait 4 years for this moment. I don’t know why it me took so long, considering that she’s the one who cleans my litterbox and picks up what I regurgitate. I think Creator had a hand in the timing and used me as his messenger boy, (even though I am an adult female.) It played out like this: She had been feeling pretty “shlumpy” once the glow of the blessing ceremony had worn off. The big guy was horizontal with the flu for a week, she was having relational tension with several people at once, and one of her students transferred to another school, (reducing her hours to almost nil.) Then one day a neighbor friend knocked on our door while we were home alone. Their family had been struggling with the immature behavior of their 13 yr old son for many years and that day it had come to a head. She could not continue like this any longer and wanted to ask Creator together for an answer. So they cried out for mercy and agreed to meet every week until they had a breakthrough. That very evening, this neighbor called a long-distance friend who started describing a syndrome that her big guy struggles with. It sounded like her son. A quick look at the glowing box gave her a pretty good indication that his behavior was not his fault. Immediately, all their anger turned to grief and compassion and their son’s attitude has completely changed, as well as the atmosphere in their habitat. The missus is completely bowled over by Creator’s quick attention to this matter, and my long-awaited display of affection turned into a very physical reminder of how He feels about her and her prayers.

Our Precious (Olivia) just got glasses and can now enjoy our antics from a distance. I am also getting much more empathy with our ongoing fight against fleas since she’s been battling head lice. We are beginning to look like a family of orangutans: Precious sits and picks at me while the missus nit-picks Precious. The big guy keeps his distance and is grateful for his balding head. The French call them “poux,” which is pronounced “poo,” which is a pretty good translation.

Precious disappeared for a whole weekend while her parents hosted guests who were attending the annual French-speaking Christian teacher’s conference. I’m always restless when Precious is gone, and panicky when strangers are in the house. The missus battled constant migraines and dismissed any hope of celebrating Valentine’s Day. The big guy carried the sound and recording of the weekend on his shoulders, including the set-up and tear-down of the stage twice for a theatrical production. It was a tough weekend for all of us. But 260 teachers (and even a few home-schooling missuses!) from Belgium, Switzerland, and France got their one yearly dose of encouragement to continue fighting the good fight. Her miserable weekend prompted the missus to go to a “healing room” for some concentrated prayer and she’s going to start getting noisier too, telling those headaches that they are not welcome, instead of expecting them to drop by.

One of my favorite pastimes is watching paper wiggle out of a humming gray box. When I hear the machine come to life, I leap into position for the best view, which is also near the big glowing box that my family loves to stare at. Anyway, in this position, I’ve noticed that several anonymous deposits have appeared on the glowing box this month. I think they are still walking in the blessing of Precious, but apparently a bunch of books that they ordered still haven’t arrived, so I’ll bet they’d love for you all to put in a reminder to Creator about that. Speaking of books, the BFA book swap was recently attended by the missus again this year and Creator made sure that she got lots of books she’d been wanting – all for free!

Halloween seems to be celebrated in February in Europe and it’s called Carnival. From a window a safe distance away, I watched costumed schoolchildren parade through the streets of Soultz throwing confetti and using “fur-raising” noisemakers. The bakeries sell beignets to enjoy during the 2 week school break and I’m told they are delicious. My family is spending this time renewing their passports, which is no longer a simple matter, due to the fight against child trafficking. Precious and big guy jr. have to be seen in person at the closest US Embassy, which means a 2 hr drive to Switzerland. Their government has also gotten picky about the identity photos, so they have to travel to a professional photographer in another city and pay a lot of money for 8 small, but exacting images. Life may be getting more complicated in the fight against evil, but I think Creator put us felines here as a reminder that rest and peace is still possible, especially in the company of my distant cousin, the Lion of Judah.

Well, the paws are pretty petered out. Thank you for reading. This was almost as tiring as all the tongue-bathing I do all day.
I think I’ve earned a nap.


We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessings…

Forgive me Readers, for I have sinned.
It’s been 3 months since my last newsletter. This month’s title is my excuse, and I think you’ll agree that it is a good one, once you’ve read to the end. I don’t think I have ever organized this many blessed gatherings in such a short period of time. Since the title is culled from a Thanksgiving hymn, let’s start there.

Squeezing a second table into my living/dining room!I was ready to give up the holiday for good this year. Olivia has no American memories of Thanksgiving since we left the country when she was 3, and the other 2 will no longer be home for it. I also wasn’t gearing up for a big classroom event since I’m not teaching English. But a struggling family and a single friend had all but invited themselves over, so desperate they were to experience this uniquely American holiday, despite my hints that without the football and family, it’s nothing more than a big meal. However, the more foreign mandatory ingredients are easier to find every year, and my friend even wanted to play the role of the Indian and pay for the turkey breast! (Yes, they brought most of the meat to that first big meal.) Keeping in mind that my own children were picky eaters, it was worth all the effort to watch the 9 year old guest wolf down his food, ask for seconds and declare my meal worthy of, not 4, but 6 stars, even when the only food he was familiar with was the turkey and green beans! It did not remotely resemble a starchy all-you-can-eat-buffet, but they still had trouble finding room for the pie, which was a slight disappointment, since I had made my first homemade French pie crust. (It was so much easier and fun(!) than the American version. Here’s a great little how-to video on my favorite French recipe site.) Anyway, we replaced the football with descriptions of the suffering pilgrims using our Thanksgiving picture books and sang of “the wicked oppressing, now cease from distressing” and other Thanksgiving favorites, setting a mildly Puritanical tone that put our guests in an almost hushed reverence.

Used for the invitations and as decor for the ceremony.Back in Sept. I was trying to figure out a way to prepare Olivia for her blessing/purity ceremony in Jan. In the end, I penned my first 6-week study for 7th grade girls on some of the basic themes of the Song of Solomon, illustrated through 4 fairy tales, and entitled, “How to Become a Princess in 6 weeks.” We invited all 9 girls from her class to come over straight from school each Friday night and they all squeezed onto my big American couch, nibbled on American snacks, worshiped with songs taken from the Song of Solomon, discussed the homework questions, and then listened to, read, or watched the next fairy tale together. None of them had ever read the Song of Solomon before, but I believed that if I could convey the emotions of Jesus that are found in this “love letter” for them before the storms of adolescence approach, they would have much smoother sailing. Some were more ready for it than others, but I know good seeds were planted, and the best part was that I was walking in a grace that made it very light. The fact that they are all sweet girls who like each other and love Olivia made it even better. Our final gathering happened the week after Thanksgiving when we created self-portraits based on the verses: “Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as a troop with banners?” and “Set me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm,” (using a real blood red wax seal with Jesus’ initial on it!) The results would provide wonderful prophetic decor for Olivia’s big night.

A week after that, I was asked to decorate our church restaurant for the teacher’s annual Christmas meal. Unfortunately I was only given one day’s notice, which is just a little stressful for someone with residual perfectionist tendencies, but David+Olivia’s entire class joined me for an hour giving me 20 more sets of hands that were invaluable. The humble brown paper lunch bag is non-existent in France, so a welcoming entrance lit up by luminaria always impresses. It was a costume party and since I had worked in the cold up to the last minute, I raced home and put on the most comfortable thing I could think of – my flannel pajamas and slippers. It was prophetic as well – I came home at midnight with a sore throat and joined David in bed, who had already succumbed. (We had a different chef this year that offered only 3 courses, but the foie gras was still good, followed by rabbit in mushroom sauce with spaetzle, (thick German noodles) cooked veggies, and a light sorbet dessert.)"Joyeux Noel" helped a very dark entrance.

Rachel and Noah came home 2 days later. A couple of months before, we were waiting to see if extra support money would come in when we needed to jump on a ticket purchase for Rachel. When it didn’t, I started trying to imagine Christmas without her. I couldn’t. So I did a daring thing and bought the ticket anyway, using money set aside for upcoming bills. Well, Christmas money did start coming in and the bills were paid, but Christmas morning with sick parents and empty stockings could have looked pretty bleak, even for 3 non-materialistic teenagers.

Well, Rachel’s arrival brought so much joy that she might as well have traveled by sleigh – she added presents to her presence, and even filled the stockings! Only when she becomes a mother will she realize what a burden she took from me.

Every year I fantasize about winter family outings that never materialize. This year was no different. (I could host a pity party, but that would be yet another gathering that I don’t need!) I also think we are not the only ones: Sickness kept us from attending a Christmas concert. The abnormally cold temperatures kept us from going to the mountains for some snow time. We had planned to rent “Horton Hears a Who” as our family Christmas movie, but it had been damaged by the previous renter. A museum exhibit that we wanted to see was closed during the days that worked for us, etc. It’s a good thing we like being together because in the end, we hibernated. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve that the kids all managed to escape the house and gather with friends for a few days. Back in good health, this allowed David and I to have a much-needed intimate gathering of our own over wine, cheese, and a great little French flick. (After 6 years, we can finally enjoy a French movie in French – a real ego boost, believe me!) Then Olivia had to go back to school while the rest of us started feverishly organizing her ceremony.

Craig Hill of Family Foundations has written a couple of good books on restoring “the ancient paths” that God instituted, but that modern society has discarded. Generational blessing is one of them. Go to their site for a great description of this concept. We wanted to combine that with her purity vows on her 13th birthday, and do it publicly in order to model this to families in our church and school, as a way to deal with that lack of spiritual fathering that I wrote about a year ago. We experienced quite a bit of enemy attack during the last week, but rather than upsetting me, it was very encouraging, because then I knew we were taking ground for the Kingdom rather than just providing entertainment!

It was a great family effort – I couldn’t have done it without my kids. David and I relived our pre-wedding nerves. Rachel got a glimpse of what planning her own wedding would be like, and played her sweet violin. Noah moved a lot of furniture and played photographer. Olivia simply radiated. I started off the evening by describing my vision for the princess class and had some of the girls share the theme of each week. Then the girls performed one of the songs we learned, which we have posted on youtube for your enjoyment! David followed with a teaching on the biblical reason for blessing children at this stage of their life: to seal their identity and release their destiny! Then he called up Olivia, got on his knees, and blessed her in English, while the guests read their printed translation. When he finished, (it was lengthy) he crowned her with a garland and they waltzed to a Boccherini minuet that Olivia loves. When the 2nd movement started, the “princesses” did a circle dance around her and offered her a rose as she turned with each of them arm in arm. Then David and I came forward and listened to her recite from memory her purity vows which came directly from the following verses: 2 Tim 2:22, Ps 101:1-6, Prov 1:8 & 3:5-6. We followed that with a reading of our own vows: in short, to be the most supportive parents we could be during her adolescence, and then we gave her a ring. Rachel translated all of that and then invited the audience to offer up their own prayers and blessings, and many did. We finished with the second song from the class (another video!) and then gave them the opportunity to order the book, which has been translated by the Canadians. (If it wasn’t for them, a lot of spiritual resources would not be available to the French. Have you hugged a Canadian today?) Anyway, our guests were so moved by the event that 13 of the 17 families ordered a copy, including our “pre-Christian” neighbors!! As Rachel says, “Yeah God!”

Nothing says “princess” like an angel food cake, so we cut up 4 of them for the reception. “Ho hum” for Americans perhaps, but a real novelty for the French. Before departing, they signed our guest book in the form of a poster illustrating a cute cutaway of a princess’s castle, filled with fairy tale references. Olivia now has their “love” hanging over her bed as a reminder of an evening that was just as she had dreamed it would be.

So when we gathered together to ask the Lord’s blessing, He did. And then it gets even better…

On the day before and the day after the ceremony, 2 deposits were made into our accounts. Combined, they made the biggest deposit we’d ever received in 8 years on the field! The timing of this blessing (around the blessing of Olivia) really got our attention, and we have real anticipation that God is putting things in place in 2009. Last month we submitted our annual request to stay in the country, and each year we hope they will get tired of processing us and give us the 10 yr. visa that gives David the right to work. This year we were encouraged by the mayor’s office to ask specifically for one and submit additional evidence to increase the chance of a favorable response. But whether we get it or not, David is still motivated to plant a seed towards a work permit by investing in some business start-up equipment with our latest gift. He has even dusted off our copy of “The Prayer of Jabez” and is getting new insights! We’ll let you know the outcome in the next newsletter…

So the day before Rachel had to fly back, we took our happy debit card to the store and bought our very own copy of “Horton Hears a Who.” (Many have seen the anti-abortion message hidden within, but has anyone besides my daughter seen the events of “the last days” alluded to in this movie??) Knowing this was our last family gathering for long while made it hard to end the evening. But resting in the fact that our kids are walking in blessing makes separation a lot easier.

A blessed 2009 to you all,

“I’m Trading My Sorrows…

…I’m trading my shame, I’m laying ’em down for the joy of the Lord…”

I don’t know about you, but when I sang this song on Sunday mornings, the joy didn’t last very long (as if singing a 3-minute song would heal our deep-seated issues!) But these lyrics suddenly work as I write a follow-up on open heavens, and I thought the verb “trading” was very appropriate for the economic shaking that we’re living right now.

After 4 years, Olivia had had enough piano sorrows to take last year off. Over the summer a girlfriend reminded her of the pleasures to be found within, and she traded her old teacher for a new one at the music school last month. Her joy (and desire to practice) has definitely returned, and I think it symbolizes what is going on in her heart as well. Last year, we were praying that God would make himself known to her, and that she would walk in more joy, (since that is her middle name) while she mourned that her Bible was just ink on paper and her prayers bounced off her ceiling. Then a few months ago during a youth worship time, He answered! She got a powerful vision of her future, and she has been “on fire” ever since: writing love letters to Jesus, reading her Bible at the kitchen table over breakfast, counseling her troubled friends, correcting my negativity, and asking forgiveness even before being confronted with her own faults. To celebrate this blessing, I’m starting to write a 7-week curriculum to prepare her and her closest friends for her 13th birthday purity ceremony. (True Love Waits is unheard of here!)

Noah traded in his French school sorrows last month for Black Forest Academy: a French ninth-grader is the “big man on campus” in junior high, but with it comes the pressure to decide your future and choose the appropriate high school (literature-focused, science/math, agriculture, technical?) Back in the American system, he is now just a lowly freshman with no worries about the future for a couple more years. His current passion is photography and he was getting frustrated with no outlet here at home with an average camera and limited subjects. (Me to Noah: “I am not downloading another picture of the cats!!”) But at BFA they put out a yearbook, which means they have really nice cameras available to use to record the year’s school activities. Needless to say, Noah has found his calling. He has more fun behind the lens than actually participating in the events, but at least he is present and engaged in a variety of settings. Add a daily dreaded gym class (and I quote: “Flag football is so pointless!”) and he is suddenly leading a much more balanced life than his relatively sedentary and rather solitary existence with us. It is a relief to see his joy returning + his high grades posted on the Internet with no supervision or help from us. (We tore our hair out trying to produce 6 lengthy book reports in French every year!)

To keep up with Rachel’s joys, sorrows, and current projects, go to her beautiful blog:

David recently traded in his workaholic tendencies for the joy that only comes by slowing down.
In the last couple of years, God has allowed him to struggle with a mysterious physical weakness exacerbated by stress. BlogPic250_David.JPG
David is learning with St. Paul to delight in weakness that leads to spiritual strength. (2 Cor. 12:9) Our marital relationship was positively impacted as soon as he took the practical step of working at school only till lunch, then turning work “off” and being engaged with God and me in the afternoons, and Olivia in the evenings. He has morphed into the man I fell in love with 23 years ago, and he claims he’s not even trying!
David has been involved with a European intercession initiative that met together off the coast of Spain for recently. Thanks to some generous gifts over the summer, I got to tag along, allowing us to celebrate our anniversary properly for the first time in a long time! All the same, the weather forecast for Palma de Majorca was “stormy,” the organizers picked a 3-star hotel, we didn’t speak the local language, and we would be depending on public transportation. This is a recipe for high stress in David’s cookbook and it does not go well with the wine of romance! But we had a great time together, even while watching the non-stop angst-ridden news coverage of the economic bailout on the hotel room TV!

While the hotel was a disappointment, the storms never materialized, and I basked in the sunshine with a good book during the meetings, while taking authority over the yippy Pomeranians next door. Having my emotional and physical cup filled up on a daily basis by a relaxed and loving man meant that I wasn’t coming into the trip empty, and demanding that he fill all my pent-up needs in a single weekend. And wasn’t he relieved! The undercurrent of negative emotions that I carried for so long and felt so guilty about have all but disappeared, just like that. This feels like “open heaven” stuff to me and it can only be the beginning. God heals us for a greater purpose than just to make us happy, esp. living in a country where a healthy marriage is so rare that kissing in public could be considered spiritual warfare! When a man walks as a prophetic image of Jesus as the faithful and passionate bridegroom coming for his bride, he is not just being a good role model for the French – he is also reminding the enemy that the real King is coming and he is a defeated liar.

And finally, I traded the sorrows of last year’s burdensome schedule (of monitoring 50 kids for lunch duty and teaching 2 difficult classes without any support) for the joy of working one-on-one. As a former home-schooling mom, this is what I believe in, esp. after seeing so many kids struggle in the distraction of a classroom setting. Meet Victor and Jean-Baptiste – yes, the English translation is “John the Baptist.” They are loving 12 yr olds in clumsy bodies with 7 yr old minds who can no longer integrate well with the primary school kids in the afternoons (after working on core subjects with their own teacher in the mornings.) So I was asked to keep them busy 6 hrs/week. This is twice the hours I put in last year, but it has been so much lighter! Legos, computer games, field trips, and Bible crafts fill up our time together. John the Baptist (on the left) was pretty autistic when he arrived here a few years ago and has since completely come out of his shell. Even better, he has the joy of the Lord, singing worship songs all day long, though his family remains unbelievers. (I know, you saying, “So why did they name him…?” France is like that – Catholic traditions are so rooted in the culture that they are used without any understanding by secular society.)

So along with David, these boys are walking in another facet of “strength in weakness,” blessing not only God’s heart, but mine as well.

“…yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord, AMEN!”


The Sky is Falling and Other Good News

While sitting in the multi-purpose room of the school during a particularly rainy week last spring, a sodden ceiling tile fell directly on my head. Checking it off as “accidents happen,” I went on with my life. And then I flew to America last month, where I attended a showing of WALL-E with Rachel to celebrate her birthday, and it happened again: We seemed to have brought the rain with us to New Mexico, and in a large, sparsely populated theater, a ceiling tile fell directly on me. Then I started crying, not because it hurt, but because my spirit sensed that God was definitely trying to get in touch with me in a very personal and dramatic way. I went to an AGLOW meeting that night with great anticipation, but nothing revelatory happened until I got on the plane to come home, where, during take-off, a plastic part the size of a light switch plate fell off the ceiling and landed right at my feet. Looking around the plane, I didn’t see another one like it anywhere, and after reassuring God that I was definitely listening, I was filled with a peace knowing that He was accompanying me during the dreaded lonely flight back.

New Mexico Sky Holes in the ceiling are bad news in the natural realm, but in the spiritual realm, I’m looking for an “open heaven.” Isaiah cried,”Oh that you would rend the heavens!” because when the heavens are open we have free access to everything in heavenly realms – God’s abundant blessings and ministry power. Ministering under an open heaven is like working hard without getting tired. What missionary doesn’t want more of that in their life (esp. ones heading toward 50!)??
Looking back, I believe I saw the first fruits of that while in Indianapolis getting Rachel settled with family. You should know that on both sides, every immediate family member is a Christian. At the same time, we are very reserved about sharing with each other spiritually – I guess we’re all in different places on the journey. But during this trip, not just one, but TWO close family members testified to Rachel and I with complete transparency about how God had recently freed them from life-long addictions!! The heavens were definitely open over my family and my trip in general – more proof and photos to follow!

Prophetic voices also happen to be predicting an open heaven over Europe starting this fall. With Rachel out of the nest and Noah on his way (to start his freshman yr. at BFA, pending the opening of a bed in the dorms,) my full-time motherhood season is quickly coming to an end. After 4 yrs. in Soultz, I am ready to change my ministry roles because, guess what? I can lead worship for large groups, teach English to young children, and host English-speaking teams all without ever improving my French or getting closer to Jesus! So in order to boot myself out of my comfort zone and more deeply into the arms of God, I have shared with the church leadership team that we would like to open our home for a cell group as a seed for a house of prayer and worship – that means learning to teach, pray, and love a small group of people in French on a regular basis, risking all the stuff that can go wrong, which we have avoided until now! The foundational teachings would be from the International House of Prayer, and a French friend who is a nightwatch intercessor there has recently started translating their teachings and songs, leaving us no excuses! I would also like to befriend Olivia’s friends and peers more deeply. They are drawn to our family and share their burdens freely with Olivia. Now that Olivia has shared them with me, I am eager to gain their trust and help the hungry ones to gain a greater intimacy with their Lord, healing wounds before they get too deep. We’ll keep you posted on how it all plays out and whether I’ve correctly interpreted “the signs from the skies!”

And now more highlights from the trip…

  • When we didn’t receive enough gifts for another plane ticket, it was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t realize how much I needed a vacation just for me without the weight of the family (not counting Rachel.) This was a first, and I am so grateful to David for letting me go for 27 whole days – I relished every single minute!
  • We did receive a lot of extra gifts during my stay, which enabled me to fill every lack we had felt in the last year, and it all fit into 3 suitcases!
  • It was so comforting to spend lots of uninterrupted time with my parents in a place where they are really at home. (They were on the move during the same time that we were for a few years.) Here is the only earthly place where I can be a daughter that is loved unconditionally. The only way I could capture that renewed feeling of belonging was to take lots of photos of 3 generations of matching feet (Rachel’s, mine, and my dad’s.)
  • A jaunt to Lake Tahoe to visit my sister as a new mom was also a precious gift from my parents. Her beautiful almost 2 yr. old welcomed us with none of the shyness that all the kids in our family were plagued with. Because “Aunt Angela” was too hard to spit out, we came up with the French substitute “Tatie.” Playing with her brought back all kinds of wonderful memories of my own kids in what seems like another lifetime.
  • 7 of David’s family members were at the airport to warmly welcome us when we finally landed in Indianapolis. David’s parents moved out of his old childhood home last Christmas and like my parents, they seem very happy in their new digs at this stage in their lives. Rachel was very ready to say good-bye to the 4 suitcases that she had packed and unpacked, weighed, and re-packed for the last 3 weeks. She has a bathroom and 2 other rooms to call her own, and lost no time in transforming them. My hope is that they will pass on their wisdom from lives well-lived in Indy for the last 40 years, and that she will earn her keep as their personal IT consultant, among other things!
  • We spent one weekend with my wonderful brother and his wife where a mini-family reunion was held. My 98 yr. old grandfather that I saw last year is still going strong, despite Alzheimer’s, and it was a delight to spend the afternoon with him and my uncle’s family, whose kids are just a little older than Rachel(!)
  • I discovered that my intestines had become French without warning me and by the last week I was eating nothing but small portions of plain home-cooked food. Praise God – eating out has lost all its attraction and I didn’t gain any weight!
  • Due to gas prices, getting a 3rd bag overseas now costs a whopping $150. But because Rachel was flying to PA the same day and traveling light, I left my 3rd bag with her, and she handed it off to the French team from our church with whom she was prayer-walking. (One of them who only brought 1 bag can take mine for free.) Click here to read about her special week…
  • During my return flight, the other blessing, besides the flying plastic, was a half empty plane so that I could stretch out across 3 seats whenever I felt like it during those 9 hours. Back home, the rest of my family greeted me almost as though I’d been raised from the dead – there was visible relief that I was back in charge of the home, though I was doing it in the middle of the night since it took me a week to get over jet-lag! After staying in beautiful American homes and attending beautiful churches, I am finding the motivation and enough money to finish some painting projects. But as “the incredible shrinking family,” we’re asking God if it’s time to think about a move to a renovated place in a quieter neighborhood…

Looking up! Angela